Last week I met a friend of a friend who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant and radiant. She eats well, exercises regularly, makes self-care a priority and the results showed. And that's no mean feat when she also has two toddlers to cope with.
Complimenting her on this rosy glow she said something so simple yet so extraordinary that it really struck me. She said "Well, I like to take care of myself". It wasn't "because I'm pregnant I need to take care of myself", or "I must drink this green smoothie because I should" type of thing. It was a simple statement of fact, completely free from the obligation usually associated with diet and exercise. "I like to take care of myself".
It was a statement that came with no force, no "have to" no "should". She likes to, so she does.
Many of us find making time to eat well and exercise regularly a hassle.
There is never enough time and it's forever on the to-do list and I think that is because we don't think what she thinks. We think "I should take care of myself" or "I need to take care of myself".
The energy of these statements is quite different, one is an obligation, or a chore. "I like to take care of myself" however sounds like a very pleasurable hobby, with a pleasurable hobby kind of positive energy, an easy thing to do because it's so inherently likeable.
"I should take better care of myself" = a PUSH, a push of motivation and willpower to do "the right thing".
"I like to take care of myself" = an inspirational PULL towards doing the right thing, with clean open energy because of its inherent likeability.
True fact: Being pulled to do something we like is easier, more pleasurable and more sustainable than being pushed by willpower to do something we don't really like.
So, I started to make a list of things I like - travelling, spending time with my husband, shopping for shoes, French champagne, that feeling I get at the end of a good yoga class and so on.
All those things are no effort for me and making steps towards them is a pleasure, not a chore. Researching the next travel destination, booking the tickets, packing - it's a magical pull towards what I love. I actually get this rush I call "airport joy"; that moment when the bags have been checked, the voicemail message changed and everything is done. A new adventure awaits and all there is to do is to sit with a good book and wait for it to unfold.
Yes, I love that. Airport Joy. And I think it's the same for having a fit healthy body. If we can tap into that feeling of what we like, what naturally draws us forward then it ceases to be a chore, or a "should" and transforms into a pleasurable hobby.
Make a list of things that you like ... the beach, the bed, a good book, crochet, hang gliding. Start identifying what you like. Notice the change in energy. Tap into that pull forward. Then see if you can extend that to the simple but powerful belief "I like to look after myself" and see how many positive choices flow from that foundation.
Anchor that new thought with some justification:
• I like to look after myself because ... I like to fit into my jeans
• I like to look after myself because ... I like to be able to run for the bus
• I like to look after myself because ... this is the only body I have, so I might as well look after it
• I like to look after myself because ... I like to be around for my grandchildren
Try to do at least a dozen of these to really lock it in place.
Buddha said "With our thoughts we make the world". And so it is with our thoughts we make our body.
"I like to take care of myself" is a pretty damn good place to start. Pull, don't push, towards the vitality you want.